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Arabic Literature (in English)

Over at Syria TodaySarah Abu Assali writes this month about Syria’s „war literature.“ She discusses the work of acclaimed playwright Mohammad al-Attar, International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF)-shortlisted novelist Khaled Khalifa, „Beirut39“-winning novelist Samar Yazbek, and acclaimed short-story author Zakaria Tamer, Naguib Mahfouz medal-winning novelist Khalil Sweileh, among others.

All have in some way shifted their work in the last year and a half. Al-Attar, for instance, has written several theatrical works that respond to the uprising. One, titled “Could You Look at the Camera?” is constructed from the testimonies of detainees. Al-Attar told The Economist earlier this month:

„I have done two drafts of this play. The first was a verbatim narration of the experiences of five people I interviewed when they were released from detention. For the [final] draft, I rewrote the text and portrayed it as a fictional story in…

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  1. ALEPPO

    In Aleppo, I saw carnage left by war
    and the shepherds who fled
    like others down winding dusty roads
    carved from centuries of wind and stone.
    Here, among the freezes of the Hittites
    where myrtle mingles with the dead,
    an ancient Syria rises up from its Citadel,
    drenched in spume and blood.
    Today, the newspapers and television
    tell of thousands slaughtered.
    Night has spilled its black ink over Syria
    but the sun will burn again.
    The rug vendors, coffee drinkers, and chess players
    will come out into the streets of Damascus,
    with their fists raised.
    The dry air will celebrate its bleached bones.

    Luis Lázaro Tijerina, Burlington, Vermont, United States

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